Haute-Savoie / France
A cluster of wooden chalets around a 16th century church, Morillon, in the heart of the Giffre valley, is still, at heart, a farming village. But with a beautiful lake, a wild river and the stunning mountains of the Grand Massif, it is also a year-round holiday destination.
Snow sport enthusiasts descend on the valley in the winter, while in the summer the mountains are a magnet for walkers and cyclists. And at less than an hour from Geneva airport, it’s easy to get to.
The village, at 700m, is linked by road and gondola to the ski resort at Morillon 1100, making it a great destination for those who like a little tranquility at the end of the day. There’s a small selection of restaurants, shops and bars, but if you’re looking for lively nightlife, this is not the village for you! However, it’s very popular with families, attracted by the Village des Enfants - a safe ski area for children - and the many summer activities, such as play areas, the adventure park, swimming in the lake and mini golf.
More facilities are available in nearby Samoens (5km) and Cluses (15km), which also has a TGV station.
As part of the Grand Massif ski area, skiing in Morillon is connected to the stations of Flaine, Les Carroz, Samoens and Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval, which between them cater for skiers of all abilities - a total of 265km of pistes accessed by a great lift network.
It’s a great choice for families - the Village des Enfants in Morillon 1100 is the perfect place for children to learn safely. It also offers great day care and other activities such as sledging and ice skating.
Highlights for skiers in the Giffre Valley include the 14km blue run, the Piste des Cascades - ski past the waterfalls into the beautiful village of Sixt, where you can stop for a drink before heading back to Morillon on the free shuttle bus. Beginners will love the Marvel piste - a gentle 5km run through an ancient forest. There’s great off-piste skiing at the Gers bowl in Flaine, which becomes a huge powder park after fresh snow.
Cross-country skiers will find plenty of choice too - head for the Col de Joux Plane, where the altitude of 1700m means you can expect great snow all season, as well as breathtaking panoramic views of Mont Blanc.
Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, sledging and fat bikes are just some of the many other activities open to you when you book a holiday property in Morillon.
Skiing and boarding are the main activities that bring guests to chalets in Morillon in the winter, while in the summer, hiking, biking and climbing are the most popular. But when you stay at an OVO Network property, there is so much more to see and do.
Here are some of our favourite things to do in Morillon - you’ll find the details below:
A trip to the Lac Bleu, on the edge of Morillon, is a great way to while away a few hours on a sunny day. Swimming is allowed, and in the summer months you’ll find lifeguards on duty. There’s also a shallow area marked off for toddlers. Other activities on site include volleyball, mini-golf, trampolines, Segway and a tree-top rope course. There’s free parking, a sandy beach, and a restaurant on site.
This Alpine adventure is a great day out for families with older children. Just a short drive from Morillon, it combines hiking and climbing on a trail cut into the rock face. You’ll wear a helmet and be clipped to the trail at all times to ensure your safety, but you’ll still need a head for heights! The Bureau des Guides offers various packages and can advise you on the right one to suit your group’s needs.
Explore mountain waterways, stunning scenery and waterfalls when you go canyoning just a short drive from Morillon - with the help of your guide, you’ll jump, slide, scramble and abseil your way down streams and rivers. Choose a day or half-day package with the Bureau des Guides.
There’s plenty of challenge and adventure waiting for cyclists in Morillon and the Giffre valley. Road cyclists can test themselves on the notorious Col de Joux Plane and there are plenty of downhill trails for MTB enthusiasts.
The frozen streams of the Giffre valley around Morillon are ideally suited for ice climbing. It’s an activity which will naturally appeal to rock climbers, but surprisingly no experience is necessary - practice sites are usually at an incline of about 45 degrees so that you can get used to the equipment in total safety.
The stunning Cascade du Rouget, just 20 minutes from Morillon, is definitely worth a visit. Nicknamed the “Queen of the Alps”, this 90m fall has been voted the most beautiful in France. There’s parking right in front of it, but there are also some wonderful walks in the area, so make a day of it! In winter, the road is closed, but you can still get to the fall by walking or snowshoeing.
Leap from tree to tree or fly through the air on a zipwire at this treetop adventure park at the Lac Bleu in Morillon. Three courses of different levels cater for everyone over the age of three, and you’ll be harnessed to a lifeline to make sure even the most adventurous climbers are always safe!
Get away from your mobile phone, email and all the other trappings of the 21st century when you spend a summer night in a mountain refuge near Morillon. It’s a great family adventure - you’ll have to hike there, but just imagine waking up with nothing around you but the mountains and nature. Choose your route and your refuge, book ahead, travel light and check the weather conditions before you set off.
Explore the area around Morillon at a slower pace from the saddle! You can book anything from a 90-minute ride to a full-day trek, and groups are arranged according to ability. Rides are for children over the age of eight, but younger ones can enjoy a 20-minute ride on the rein, under the supervision of parents.
Never heard of it? Strap on your skis and let a horse pull you along! Once a mode of winter travel in rural areas, this Scandinavian practice is now quite competitive. But you don’t need any experience to try it - as long as you can hold on! There are three speeds - walk, trot and gallop - for anyone aged eight and over.
L’Igloo (les Esserts, 74440 Morillon, tel +33 4 50 90 14 31) HIke, bike or ski to this popular mountain restaurant on the Marvel piste and reward yourself with a hearty cheese fondue! Alternatively, you could just take the Bergin chairlift … As well as local dishes, you’ll find pasta, salads, meat dishes and much more. On a sunny day, the terrace is the perfect excuse for an ice cream or a cold beer.
La Covagne (L Essert Est, 74440 Morillon, tel +33 4 50 78 37 44) Overlooking the Lac Bleu in Morillon, this cafe-style restaurant is a popular lunch stop for families who can enjoy the leisure area. Big rugby and football matches are often shown in the sports bar. Make sure you book in the evenings, when the location and friendly service make La Covagne a popular choice. Try the steaks - the cote de boeuf is particularly good - and the salads, which are generously sized.
La Puzze (la Pusaz 409 route de Samoëns, 74440 Morillon, tel +33 4 50 90 12 06) Burgers, steaks, pizza and local specialities are on the menu at this family-run restaurant just 50m from the cable car, making it a great place to stop when you come off the slopes. You can get a three-course lunch for about €15, and the children’s menu offers smaller pizzas and half-size tartiflette as well as the usual nuggets and burger. A good safe bet.
L’Beu (5204 C route des Esserts, 74440 Morillon, tel +33 4 50 90 17 89) Right by the Esserts and Sairon ski lift, this restaurant attracts skiers from across the Grand Massif, so it’s a good idea to book. PIerrade (meat cooked on a hot stone at your table) is one of the most popular dishes, but local specialities are well done. If you have room, follow your main course with a crepe, waffle or one of the fabulous homemade desserts. Can’t choose? Try the cafe gourmand - a selection of four mini desserts complete with coffee.
La Luge (G13, Samoens, +33 6 85 80 77 00) It’s worth skiing or hiking over to Samoens for this cosy mountain restaurant situated in pine forests at the bottom of the Gouilles chairlift. Booking is advisable, but you may still be in for a bit of a wait. Opt for a simple omelette or go all out for the Chamois plate - charcuterie, salad and a whole Vacherin cheese! If you can manage it, the homemade desserts are really delicious. You can eat on the terrace on a sunny day, but when it’s cold and the fires are lit, inside is the place to be.
Probably the best place to buy local cheeses, charcuterie and other local produce while you’re in Morillon is at the lively local market on Wednesdays. You can pick up fresh bread, croissants and pastries at the Boulangerie Tiffany. The Sherpa supermarket will cover most of your food needs while you’re in Morillon, but for a bigger shop, it’s worth heading to the Carrefour in Samoens.
There’s much more variety in Samoens, where life revolves around the village square. Check out Popcorn Vintage for a wonderful selection of beanies, scarfs and neck warmers to keep out the chill in the mountains. For clothing, try Deci Dela, La clé des cimes or pick up an interesting vintage bargain at Fripland Samoens. Unusual books, gifts and homeware are available at Dahu and L’Art Des Choix. Young children will love the toyshop La Courterie, which is packed full of soft toys, games and puzzles.
The nearest rail station is Cluses, and a shuttle service runs between the station and Morillon village - if you’re staying at Morillon 1100, you’ll need to take the cable car or a taxi.
For taxis, try Oreades Transport or Taxi Olive Christophe (tel +33636756214).